"There's a real danger that all we've done in five months is going to get washed away in the end," La Russa said. "That's what I worry about. "Overall, we've been in contention, and we don't want to let that get away from us."
Two hours and 16 minutes later, Cincinnati's Aaron Harang had shut out the Cardinals on six hits. For the second straight night, the Cardinals didn't draw a walk, nor did they have a hit with men in scoring position, going 0-for-5 on Wednesday after going 0-for-1 on Tuesday.
Todd Wellemeyer and two relievers didn't allow a hit in seven of the eight innings they pitched. But Wellemeyer yielded four hits in the fourth. Three of them were solo homers by Andy Phillips, Jay Bruce and Paul Janish, who hit the first of his career.
Wellemeyer said, "All three pitches weren't that good, but you don't expect all of them to go out. But they did, and we didn't come back."
Then Wellemeyer voiced some frustration with an offense that generally had been good most of the season.
"I don't know what's going on," he said. "We're not scoring at all. We've had a scrappy team all year, and all of a sudden were not putting anybody across the plate.
"For the last 10 games, we haven't been scoring. You hate to think that if you give up one, two or three runs, it's going to be a loss. But that's the way it's been. You can't think like that."
Wellemeyer added, however, "It didn't even cross my mind (Wednesday)."
REDS 3, CARDINALS 0: In their losing streak that reached seven games Wednesday, the Cardinals have scored only 17 runs to 41 for the opponents. They had two runners on base in the same inning only once Wednesday, and that was in the first. CF Skip Schumaker and SS Felipe Lopez opened with singles, but 1B Albert Pujols hit into a double play.
NOTES AND QUOTES:
--If 1B Albert Pujols doesn't hit, not much happens. Pujols is 0-for-8 in the first two games of the three-game series.
--INF Brendan Ryan started for the first time in the outfield and made a sliding catch in right field. Ryan, however, went 0-for-3 and failed to get the ball out of the infield.
--RHP Chris Carpenter has been sent back to St. Louis to undergo more tests to determine extent of the nerve problem in his right shoulder. Carpenter has pitched just five games and won none in the past two seasons. "I hope he catches a break," manager Tony La Russa said. "I hope we catch a break."
--OF Rick Ankiel underwent surgery in Philadelphia to repair a sports hernia. Ankiel, hampered for nearly two months, finished the season with a .264 average, 25 homers and 71 RBIs. Recovery time is expected to be five to six weeks.
--LHP Randy Flores may be out for the rest of the season with shoulder discomfort. Flores has had a disappointing year and isn't likely to be offered a contract when the season is over.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- Consecutive seasons at the start of his career that 1B Albert Pujols has hit at least .300 with 30 homers and 100 RBIs.